Recent Education Forum with Rep. Fiorello and Guest Host Erec Smith

Posted on September 22, 2021


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Guest Host:

Erec Smith is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania. Although he has eclectic scholarly interests, Smith’s primary focuses on the rhetorics of anti-racist activism, theory, and pedagogy. He is a co-founder of Free Black Thought, a website dedicated to highlighting viewpoint diversity within

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2021 Constitution Day Essay Contest Winners

Posted on September 17, 2021


Dr. John R. Cleary

Bio: 

  • Doctorate in Education
  • 81 years old
  • 46-year Bethel, CT resident
  • retired in 2002, 38-year secondary school English teacher
  • military duty as company/executive officer between 1964-1966
  • six adult children, 17 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren
  • active in Bethel politics over 15 years: Chairman of Board of Education, Chairman of Bethel Library Board of Trustees, Chairman of Bethel Republican Town Committee, among several others appointed or elected positions
  • now enjoys writing essays and letters to the editor of local newspapers

Essay:

The United States Constitution establishes the law of the land. While its authors could hardly foresee the changes that would redefine what America was to become, they were wise enough to add to the embryonic document the ability to amend it to suit the times.

It is taken for granted that Americans will follow the law of the land, but not without challenge. Via the democratic voting process, Americans can alter or remove the laws and rules that are not compatible with contemporary thinking and practices. Since its creation in September 17, 1787 then ultimate ratification in 1789, there have been 27 amendments.

But that’s moot. The meaning of and connotations of the document can be as diverse as the folks who comment. If I were to scan Webster’s dictionary for the term “freedom,” I imagine I would see a picture of the Constitution beside it because that is the essence of its existence as enumerated in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights.

White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, for the most part, separated from Britain, the mother country and “tyrannical” King George the Third, to create a new government, a republic form of democracy in which freedom “would ring,” as coined in 1831 in the lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith: “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty.” Over the subsequent 240 years, the millions upon millions of aliens, immigrants, foreigners who immigrated to our shores had one goal in mind, freedom to be themselves in a land of freedom and opportunity. Emma Lazarus’s famous 1883 sonnet summed it up in her work created for the Statue of Liberty: “cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., made the following allusion to freedom in his “I have a dream” speech in August of 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” when he expounded with his emotional conclusion (which was borrowed from a Black spiritual): “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” Americans have fought in so many wars beginning with the American Revolution till the recent end of our presence in Afghanistan, all for the cause of democracy and the freedom from tyrannical government, freedom from despotic control, freedom from totalitarian, authoritarian rule, or any power which steals or stifles or squelches our yearning for freedom to do it, as Frank Sinatra so curtly put it, “my way.”

After the 9/11 attack on our sovereignty, the damage and destruction to the Pentagon and World Trade Center with the death of over 3,000 American citizens, we unified, as exemplified by Americans across the country, to impress the invaders that we would never surrender our freedom.

America’s Supreme Court is constantly debating how “living” the Constitution is as a means of establishing the rules of law and order. But for me, the document will forever epitomize freedom.

 

Logan Lindstrom

Bio:

  • I was born in Sweden and have lived in the U.S for 11 years. I am in 11th grade. I attended GCDS for my first two years of high school, and am currently homeschooling. I like to sail, play basketball, read, and play video games.

Essay:

The U.S constitution means a lot to me. It allows me to be free and pursue a better life in our great country. It guarantees essential freedoms that to some people may seem trivial, but when you look at them closely, are crucial to maintaining freedom. Unfortunately, there has been an unprecedented attack on several of these amendments, most notably the first amendment and the second amendment, (the right to freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.) Both of these amendments are needed to maintain a free country. If you cannot have free speech the entire point of democracy is nullified. Without free discourse how can we be informed of each candidate that we are going to vote for? How can we be sure that the government isn’t lying to us? How can we have a civil debate and educate ourselves if there are not two viewpoints? As we have seen in history, countries that limit speech have never been free countries.
The same goes for the right to bear arms. The right to bear arms is an intrinsic American trait that allows us to be independent in our ability to defend ourselves and defend ourselves from the government if necessary. These amendments are two checks in the power of the government that protect American citizens and should not in any way be infringed upon. Several countries that prohibited citizens from having firearms were Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Communist China, and North Korea. None of these countries were praised for their freedom and responsible governments. In fact, these regimes have collectively murdered over 100,000,000 people. One of the founders’ greatest fears was having the United States government become too powerful, so they imposed checks and balances to curtail the power of the federal government. These checks and balances including the three branches of government and the bill of rights have succeeded for many years in allowing the United States to be the freest and most successful country ever to exist.
In conclusion, the U.S constitution means more than a lot to me. It means everything to me because it secures my freedoms and allows me to live a free and happy life. It guarantees that I will never be discriminated against, oppressed, unfairly treated, and it allows me to speak my opinions freely and defend myself. It allows me to be a strong and free American the way our founders intended Americans to be.

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FEMA Process for Federal Assistance

Posted on September 9, 2021


Many of you have contacted my office regarding FEMA assistance to cover the damage caused by Tropical Storm Henri and Hurricane Ida.

Prior to making a formal request to FEMA for assistance, the state must identify the extent of the damages caused by hurricanes Henri and Ida. The Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) is currently assessing the extent of the damages to determine if FEMA thresholds are met and a disaster declaration is needed.

The deadline for municipalities

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